Public Schools

New York City Pre-K

New York City public school education generally begins in Kindergarten. However, free or subsidized half-day and full-day Pre-Kindergarten programs exist in some public schools, early childhood centers, and community-based agencies for children living in New York City who turn four by December 31 of the enrollment year. Spots are limited and there is no guarantee of admission. The full day for the Pre-K public school classes ends between 2:00 and 3:00 p.m., and children are generally not eligible to participate in the in-house afterschool programs until Kindergarten, so it is important to note the difference in operating hours from many private nursery schools with extended day options.

Some of the schools in the Columbia main campus area offering Pre-K include PS 9, 84, 87, 145, 163, 165, and 166 in District 3; and PS 36 in District 5. As Pre-K classes are often the first programs to be cut when there are space and budget constraints, it is important to double check whether a school for which you are interested in applying will be offering Pre-K again for the following fall. Also, please note that Pre-K admissions has no bearing on Kindergarten admissions and there is no guarantee of Kindergarten placement in the same school where your child attends Pre-K. Therefore, in most cases, even if your child is admitted to a school for Pre-K that you are interested in continuing through elementary, the standard Kindergarten admissions procedures will still apply.

Application Process

Parents are allowed to rank up to twelve public Pre-K programs in order of preference on the application. Every Pre-K program housed in a public school will accept students according to the following order of priority:

  1. Students applying to a program at their zoned elementary school (highest priority).
  2. Students with no zoned school or whose zoned school has no Pre-K program, applying to a Pre-K program within their district.
  3. Students who are zoned for a school with a Pre-K program, but are applying to another school within their district.
  4. Students applying to a program outside their district but in their borough.
  5. Students applying to a program outside their borough (lowest priority).

Please see the Department of Education's website for more information on Pre-K enrollment.